Four years. That’s what it will be in ten days. Four years since I’ve seen, spoken to or really had any contact beyond the occasional email or text message where she wants something… where I can’t even be sure that it’s her on the other end of the line. Four long, hard, heavy years.
Yesterday she turned eighteen. Don’t get excited – in Nebraska you’re not legally an adult until you’re nineteen. But even that doesn’t really matter. She could be turning twenty-two and I don’t see things changing.
Last year I wrote all about it. How I don’t tell my sister the truth in some foolish attempt to protect her. And how I’ve gone so long, I can’t exactly come clean even if I felt like it now. The truth about how abusive our mother was to me – so much so that police were called multiple times. Teachers would report concerns, or I wasn’t good enough at hiding the bruises. How physical abuse ranging from punching to more serious offenses like strangulations or knife attacks was actually the easy part. It’s the part that doesn’t contribute to who I am as a person today. It’s all the mental and emotional stuff – the games, manipulation… those are the parts that suck.
Anyway, my sister K, sent me an invitation to her graduation open house. To be clear – I’m not going. It didn’t come with a personalized note. I didn’t get an email. I don’t even know where she is attending college, even though I spent countless hours helping her with her essays for free (had she been a client, it would have seriously cost her more than two grand, not because I’m high-end but because of how many essays, scholarships, rush deadlines etc. I worked on). I don’t know where she is going to school or what her plans are.
I don’t want to sound bitter, and I’m not, but seeing the young woman she has become (I have not seen a picture of her in four years, she does not have social media or send me anything) makes me realize that much more – I have no idea who she is. She’s not my baby sister or even my kid sister. Not anymore.
In the past four years I have only learned a little about her life, and only through the essays I worked on for her. She was in a nasty car accident at one point and had a “life-altering” experience. She had a successful high school career, one that I completely missed out on. She was on student council, pom squad and even the Christian student organization. She is beautiful, the kind of girl that makes me instantly protective and not want to think about any guy or girl who she fancies. I’m not a cretin, but aren’t there exceptions to every rule?
And her pictures… she’s unrecognizable. Like if I passed her on the street, I would not recognize her. How sad is that? She looks like one of those beautiful perfect girls who you assume doesn’t know what a real problem is – at least in the kneejerk judgment kind of way.
I’m not sure why I’m writing about all of this (AGAIN) because I feel like I’ve already exhausted the subject, but it is always on my mind and still exhausts me.
I hate that I missed out on so much. And that I will never get that back, but it’s not what I focus on. I know it’s just how it was and there was no way around it. I know I made the right choice. Just as I know I may never have a relationship with my sister because of it.
So what else is there to say?
I hope that she’s smart, not book-smart as I already know she’s that (I’ve seen her transcripts) but smart in the way of the world, when I know my mother has tried to shelter her not to protect her, but in order to have her see the world as my mother sees it, regardless of how far off from reality that is.
I hope that she’s a good person. My mother is like poison to the soul. Harsh – maybe, but accurate – most definitely. It can be tricky not to get swept up in her stuff, even when you know all of her tricks. And K doesn’t. She sees the mother she wants to have instead of the person my mother actually is. At least everything I’ve witnessed reinforces this. I hope she’s a genuinely kind, compassionate, nonjudgmental person, and not just these things for the sake of appearances.
I hope she’ll reach out one day. At least until she is a legal adult, I take all of my cues from her. And once she is an adult, I’ll probably continue to do so. But we were close once, inseparable even. I’m not expecting, even in my wildest dreams, to go back to that, but I’d like to be something to her rather than nothing. She’s already something to me.
I hope that she’s happy. I think I wish this one the hardest, even if part of that happiness is a life without seeing my mother for who she really is, living in some alternate reality, or me forever being apart from her. I hope she’s happy, genuinely so.
Happy Birthday, K. It breaks my heart to know that I’ve missed another year, another milestone. Maybe one day I can be a part of that again.